1. The relation of Descartes to the philosophy of Enlightenment
In France and in England, all the philosophical thoughts from the middle of 17th century through the 18th century were under Descartes’s influences.
The admirer of Descartes’ physics and his radical rationalism threatened the Christianity and the established Church. Fontenelle’s philosophy did not accept the Cartesian spiritualism and overemphasized the positive elements of the Cartesian philosophy. Thus, Fontenelle merely criticized the Ancient oracles as superstition, but this was immediately applied to the miracles of Christianity.
Starting with the Cartesian rationalism, Bayle considered that to believe in Christianity means to abandon Reason and the human rationality and to surrender to the miraculous phenomena. The opposition between philosophy (rationalism) and religion set up by Bayle created an anti-religious movement against Christianity as well as prepared for the development of the 18th Century philosophy.
The Enlightenment Movement in France is a synthesis of the Cartesian philosophy of the mechanistic understanding of nature and the British Empiricism.
In the 17th century, British philosophers such as Bacon, Hobbes and Locke came to France and were strongly influenced by the French Philosophies. In the 18th century, the French philosophers visited England and were strongly influenced by the British Empiricism and advocated empiricism rather than idealism in France upon their return.
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